WGN fills up on Canadian 'Corner Gas'


TORONTO -- Canadian broadcaster CTV Inc. on Friday cracked the U.S. market by selling "Corner Gas," Canada's top homegrown sitcom, to Superstation WGN.

The two-year deal, brokered by Arthur Hasson's Multi-Platform Distribution Company, will see Tribune Broadcasting's Superstation WGN air four seasons of "Corner Gas," totalling 88 episodes, to around 70 million homes via cable or satellite beginning in 2007.

"This sitcom is very well written and the ensemble cast is very funny," Bill Shaw vp and president of Superstation WGN, said in a statement, adding "Corner Gas" would fit well with his channel's other program offerings.

The deal marks a coup for CTV, which fully financed the first two seasons of the ensemble comedy set in the fictional prairie town of Dog River, Saskatchewan, with no government subsidies. CTV then bank-rolled the third and fourth seasons of "Corner Gas" with The Comedy Network.

Terms of the deal with Superstation WGN were not disclosed, but CTV will split the proceeds of the U.S. distribution deal with the series' producers, Prairie Pants Productions.

"Corner Gas" is also available in 26 international markets, including Australia, Finland, Morocco and throughout the Middle East, as part of deals brokered on behalf of CTV by UK-based Minotaur International Ltd.

"Corner Gas" has consistently been the top-rated comedy on Canadian TV, beating out American competition and pulling in an average of around 1.5 million viewers weekly.

The series was created by Canadian comic Brent Butt, David Storey and Virginia Thompson. The ensemble cast includes Butt, veteran Canadian actors Eric Peterson Janet Wright, Cavan Cunningham, Gabrielle Miller and Fred Ewanuick.

Canadian-originated dramas have long aired in the U.S. market on cable channels. But homegrown sitcoms breaking through south of the border has been a rarity, despite the prominence of Canadian stand-up and sketch comedy talent working in New York City and Los Angeles.

"Trailer Park Boys," a comedy about low life in a Halifax trailer park, earlier became a cult classic on BBC America after bowing on Showcase in Canada.
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